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Students see snakes up close

Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News Children gather around to pet and hold Rosie the Burmese python on Tuesday during the Snakes Alive program at Rock Springs Elementary sponsored by the Lincoln County Public Library in Denver.

Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News
Children gather around to pet and hold Rosie the Burmese python on Tuesday during the Snakes Alive program at Rock Springs Elementary sponsored by the Lincoln County Public Library in Denver.

Library hosts ‘Snakes Alive’ for curious kids

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

From an Australian Bearded Dragon named “Hector” to a 13-foot long Burmese python named “Rosie,” snakes and reptiles came “alive” for a crowd of more than 300 elementary-aged children Tuesday at locations in both Lincolnton and Denver.
The Lincoln County Public Library hosted the program “Snakes Alive” with Herpetologist Ron Cromer once in the morning at the Citizens Center and again in the afternoon at Rock Springs Elementary School.
Cromer not only taught his captivated audiences the difference between harmless and dangerous snakes but also touched on the proper way to hold and approach a snake and identify the creature.
While he noted most of the snakes around North Carolina are not dangerous, he encouraged individuals to still be mindful of handling the ones they see.
“Don’t even pick up a baby snake,” he said, “because a wild snake is scared of humans.”
For Angela Foster, 9, the program filled her with mixed emotions since she said she was scared of snakes but still wanted to attend. After touching one for the first time, she quickly changed her opinion on the slithering critter.
“It felt smooth and cool,” she said.
The hands-on experience helped Foster overcome her fear.
Cromer felt that by allowing children to pet the snakes and lizards, he could help discourage the age-old myth that the reptiles are “ooey gooey,” he said.
He also revealed the planet’s need for such creatures and how people should refrain from immediately killing them.
“We need snakes in the ecosystem,” Cromer said. “They are part of our life support system here on Earth.”
The county library system’s Executive Director Jennifer Sackett said the seasoned snake scientist first visited the county with his intriguing show three years ago.
She invited him back this season since “Snakes Alive” correlated with the library’s 2013 summer reading program “Dig Into Reading” for rising 1st through 5th graders.
Library officials hoped through the program, children would choose to bury themselves in good books over vacation in the same way snakes burrow deep underground.
In addition to having eight adults usher a more than 100-lb. python around the room for a most compelling conclusion to Tuesday’s show, an event highlight proved to be a feeding session with “Tarzan,” a common iguana.
Two child volunteers held a sweet potato while Cromer brought the animal up to them to eat.
The crowd cheered and clapped for the boys’ brave encounter.
Additional reptiles on display Tuesday included a Nigerian-based lizard named “Mellow Yellow,” “Checkers,” a corn snake, “Julius Squeezer,” a black snake, “Casper,” an albino corn snake, and a family of Texan Hognose snakes named “Pork Chop,” “Miss Piggy,” “Piglet” and “Little Bacon Bits,” among others.
Cromer never gets tired of showing off his more than a dozen snakes and reptiles to locations across the Southeast. He’s been a full-time lecturer since 1982 and knows his program provides quite the learning experience.
“A lot of people have never gotten to pet them, and they find out what they’re like,” he said.
For more information on Cromer, visit snakesalive.org or email snakesaliveinc@aol.com.
The library will host a number of other interactive events throughout the summer including magic and puppet shows. For further details, call (704) 732-0548.

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